With offensive linemen a very high priority for Auburn’s 2020 football recruiting class, Gus Malzahn and his staff received good news during Big Cat Weekend when Central High tackle Javion Cohen announced he will play for the Tigers.
A key performer on last season’s 7A state championship team, at 6-5, 275 pounds he has the potential to be a multi-year starter in the SEC because he has the frame to add good weight and the quickness to block outside pass rushers.
The Tigers need to hit on a healthy percentage of the several dozen uncommitted Big Cat visitors. Although seven commitments in early June would traditionally be a high number, many of Auburn’s rivals are off to more impressive starts on the recruiting chase than the Tigers.
The same day the football coaches were hosts for Big Cat the Auburn basketball staff tried a similar event that worked out well, especially after one of the visitors committed to the Tigers two days later.
Point guard Daeshun Ruffin, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state of Mississippi for the 2021 class, chose the Tigers over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and others.
A dynamo at point guard for Callaway High in Jackson, he has already earned first team All-State honors twice. Last season as a sophomore, the 5-foot-9, cat-quick prospect averaged 26 points per game and has been a star on the AAU circuit as well.
In addition to Ruffin, Pearl’s staff got visits from a trio of five-star recruits from Georgia–center Walker Kessler from Woodward Academy, point guard Sharife Cooper from McEachern High and shooting guard Brandon “B.J.” Boston from Norcross High.
Pearl’s team filled a hole left in the 2019-20 roster when Chuma Okeke decided to stay in the NBA Draft by signing 6-7, 218 transfer Javon Franklin. He arrives from Little Rock, Arkansas, via Holmes Community College in Mississippi where he attracted a good bit of recruiting attention.
Injured after one game last season, Franklin redshirted and enrolls at Auburn with three years of eligibility. He is a strong defender, a solid scorer and an excellent leaper who should help the Tigers out at the power forward position.
The baseball Tigers, fresh off two upset victories over No. 3 national seed Georgia Tech, need just two more victories to make their first appearance in the College World Series since 1997. This is a development that would not have seemed out of the ordinary heading into the season, but it is surprising when you consider the pitching staff has had to deal with injuries to key players.
After facing what has been rated as the nation’s toughest schedule, Coach Butch Thompson’s Tigers will be the underdog beginning on Saturday during the super regional at North Carolina. The Tar Heels have a strong pitching staff, power at the plate, a seven-game hitting streak and are much, much better at home than on the road. However, if the Tigers can get production throughout the lineup like they did in Atlanta they will certainly have a chance to advance to Omaha after coming agonizingly close to ending their world series drought in last year’s super regionals at Florida.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter